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    Ask the Experts

    News flash - I do not know everything. Flickr - Great BeyondIn fact, even in my area of expertise, HR Technology, I do not have all the answers.

    So when you accept the fact that you don't know everything, but still want or need to provide answers, insight, customer service, whatever, what do you do?

    You find people who do have the answers, or at least can help lead you in the direction of the answers.

    So for me, for the final session of my HR Technology class, for the part of the class where the students typically look to the instructor for some final thoughts, insights, and advice for the future, I did just that. I asked the experts.  I put out a request to the Twitter community for HR and HR Technology experts willing to connect to a web conference and participate in a expert panel Q&A session with my students.

    And in a show of community and support that is a hallmark of the Twitterverse multiple experts volunteered their time, and shared their knowledge, expertise, and insights with my class. I have thanked them all on twitter, but I would like to thank and acknowledge them once again here. So, here they are, the Steve's HR Technology Class Expert Panel for 2009: (in no particular order):

    Diedre Honner - aka The HR Maven follow her on Twitter - thehrmaven

    Lisa Rosendahl - the voice behind HR Thoughts - follow her on Twitter - lisarosendahl

    Karen Mattonen - from HireCentrix - follow her on Twitter - HireCentrix

    Becky Allen from Serco North America - follow her on Twitter - beckyallen

    Michael Krupa from Infobox - follow him on Twitter - pdxmikek

    Susan Burns from Talent Synchronicity - follow her on Twitter - TalentSynch

    Mark Stelzner from Inflexion Advisors - follow him on Twitter - stelzner

    Without exception, each expert brought great perspective and wisdom to the class, and I truly thank them once again, and appreciate their contribution.

    Already, folks are asking me when the next chance will be to connect with my students and do it all over again, so I am sure these type of expert panels will continue.

    I don't have all the answers, but more and more, I know how to find the people who do.





    HR Carnevale

    The Carnevale delle Risorse Umane or Carnival of HR is up at the great Jon Ingham's Strategic HCM Blog.

    While I am really glad to be included in the Carnival for the first time, it is a bit bittersweet, as the theme of this Carnival is the global recession, and the Carnival is full of posts about job loss, job seeking, but ultimately moves to a more optimistic and positive light with posts about the Job Angels movement and Lisa Rosendahl's advice on getting the job offer.

    Thanks Jon for hosting the Carnival and for your continued excellent work.



    Breaking Us in Two

    Always liked Joe Jackson (the singer, not the baseball player, although I am pretty convinced the baseball player got a bad rap, but I digress). 

    Joe the singer had a really cool song back in the day, 'Breaking Us in Two'.  I heard it the other day and Flickr - I'm Heavy Dutycoincidentally I have been thinking about a breakup of sorts, that is a breakup of my HR Technology class into two separate classes.

    Currently, the class covers a wide range of topics and technologies, starting with the basics of HR Technology - 'Define ERP', progressing through the various components of Talent Management and their associated technologies, and eventually covering new trends and directions in HR Tech.  Things like the growing impact of social media in recruiting, discussions on the use of external social networking by employees, the concept of the corporate social network, and demonstration and testing of some of the technologies in that space.

    Each time I give the course, the latter section about new technology and trends seems to get bigger, and since it is much more current and interesting, some of the 'older' material and concepts are starting to get squeezed out, and that really is a shame.  This quarter, I spent really not enough time on ERP and the issues and challenges inherent with ERP, did not talk about workforce scheduling and management technologies at all, and gave not nearly enough attention to Learning and Development technologies.

    Even my sections on 'new tech' felt somewhat rushed, as we were fortunate to have the use of great Talent Management software from Halogen, that we spent quite a bit of class time using. Now I am at the end of class, wishing I had about three more weeks to really cover collaboration and internal social networking properly, with real software to use like Mentor Scout or SocialCast.

    The remedy might be to split the current class and curriculum into two separate courses, an HR Tech Part I and Part II.  Part I would start with the basics, definitions, ERP, etc. and continue though the various components of Talent Management (recruiting, onboarding, performance, succession and comp).  Part II would then pickup with the impact of Web 2.0 on all these technologies, modern approaches to recruiting with social media, the use of external and internal social networking.  We could find a internal community platform vendor like SelectMinds to partner with the class to let the students roll out a full deployment of a mock internal social network for our class company. We'd spend time on internal use of blogs, microblogging and other new methods for company communication.

    Does it make sense?  Is there really enough content and technologies to split one HR Tech Class into two?  Is this all just a shameless ploy to double my (meager) salary as an instructor?

    What do you think?  Is HR Tech so big now, that 'Breaking Us in Two' makes sense?






    I'm not in today, but my Twitter followers can help you

    As the popularity of Twitter grows by leaps and bounds, and as folks increasingly turn to their Twitter networks for information, perspective, advice, and great ideas, I wonder if there will come a time when the standard 'Out of the Office' message - 'Hi, I'm not in, leave a message and I'll get back to you on Thursday', will be replaced by 'I'm not in today, but my Twitter followers can help you, just send me a Tweet with your question'.

    Think about it, many folks who have spent the time networking and connecting on Twitter have developed robust, rich networks of hundreds if not thousands of 'followers', many of whom are more than willing to offer assistance, resources, and expert information on almost any question you are likely to throw at them.

    A few nights ago I was preparing material for my HR Tech class on the use of Web 2.0 and related technologies in recruiting, and I tweeted a question to my network about what technologies aside from LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter were important to mention. Within five minutes I received a wide range of responses from five or six professional, successful recruiters.  The responses were insightful, helpful, innovative, and I incorporated some of the suggestions in class the next night.  My 'work product' was directly influenced and improved by the use of my network.

    So, what's the big deal you ask? Hasn't leveraging your professional network always been a hallmark of successful employees?  In the past the most valuable employees often boasted the largest rolodex.Flickr - rutibegga

    All true, but today's social sites like Twitter and Facebook enable more 'super-charged' networking, that is more accessible to every employee.  But unlike the old-timer's rolodexes, these networks are sometimes viewed as 'time-wasters', 'distractions', and even banned or blocked by some short-sighted organizations.

    Would any organization force a new employee to erase all the numbers in their contact list? Then why would they try and block Twitter?

    Follow me on Twitter - I promise I won't block you!



    Wiki Lessons

    The third session of my HR Technology course is winding down, and the final class 'Wiki as intranet'project is coming together really well.  The students have really embraced the technology and have created some really outstanding content, and have extended the 'core' functionality by embedding video, chat rooms, polls, and presentations.

    In my experience using wikis as a class tool as well as deploying wikis in the organization for faculty use there are a few key considerations and lessons learned that are important to understand if you plan on introducing wikis to your class or organization.

    1. If Wikis are new to your program or organization, chances are 90% of the students and staff will have never 'used' a Wiki, beyond reading entries on Wikipedia.

    2. Even though Wikis are touted as simple, no-training-required tools, doing more than adding simple text will initially require demonstration and review for most non-technical users.

    3. Wikis that make as simple as possible the steps for embedding video, slide shows, Flickr images, chat, and polls (love Zoho Polls for this), will be most effective in the classroom

    4. For the best chances of adoption of the Wiki as the primary class or organization communication platform, put everything on the Wiki. for your class this means Syllabus, course overview, assignments, presentations, and any 'sign-ups' should all be Wiki pages. Encourage the class to post questions and comments everywhere. For an organization wiki, meeting agendas, minutes, project plans, status reports and announcements should all be placed on the wiki.

    5. For a class, old habits are still hard to break, you may need to 'cross-post' for a time in both the Wiki and the old course management system. Certain items like the gradebook still have to reside in the CMS. Try not to make the students have to bounce back and forth between the two platforms too often. In your organization, you may still need to resort to e-mail blasts to be sure important announcements are getting seen, while you are building wiki awareness and use.  If you do resort to e-mail, be sure to 'cross-post' to the wiki and provide a link the the associated wiki page in the e-mail message.

    6. Keep the wiki alive even after the class or project ends. There's lots of good information there. Figure out a way to keep it accessible for students in the future. In an organization this is less of an issue, but be mindful of 'stagnation', many wikis start out with a flurry of activity, then sort of slowly die out as the novelty wears off.

    I am absolutely convinced that Wikis are an incredibly effective tool for almost all class activities, with the added bonus of giving the students exposure and experience to a technology they will see in the workplace. In fact, a current student has already implemented her own company-wide wiki for here small business, largely based on the experience and lessons learned from using the class wiki.

    These tips and observations are really vendor neutral, I have implemented wikis from Socialtext, Confluence, and PbWiki, and while they all have their individual strengths and weaknesses, they all support the essentials for class or organizational use.

    What are your best tips, tricks and observations from using wiki?